Axios readers are getting a first look at the trailer for our upcoming show on HBO. Make sure to tune in for the premiere on Sunday 11/4 at 6:30pm to get smarter on what really matters.
My latest Harder Line column is another installment of my glossary columns. This one, about carbon taxes, is quite timely given the increased focus on the policy lately. I'll share that and then Ben will get you up to speed on the rest of the news.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Two parallel efforts to tax carbon emissions are taking great strides to avoid the t-word.
Why it matters: Because words matter! And this one — tax — matters more than most. It’s at the intersection of our fossil-fuel dependence, the climate-change repercussions of that, and what (if anything) is done about it.
Driving the news:
The big picture: Taxes of any kind have always been unpopular with voters, and climate change is the most polarized issue in America, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll.
The reason carbon taxes keep coming up is because, economically speaking, they make sense and are essential to addressing climate change. They’re the simplest way to put a monetary value on the environmental impact of fossil fuels.
Between the lines: Technical differences often — but not always — differentiate fees from taxes. Money raised from fees goes to specific purposes, whereas taxes are often funneled into a general budget fund. A high-profile exception to this rule is the federal gasoline tax, which goes to the highway trust fund and yet is still called a tax.
Economists worry the name game could backfire.
“Other terms may poll better, and if changing the name helps pass a bill, that’s fine with me,” said Adele Morris, an economist at the Brookings Institution with prior stints in the Treasury Department and Congress. “I do worry there’s a downside risk that proponents of another label will be accused of obfuscating the policy’s true tax-like nature.”
Go deeper, with the rest on the Axios stream here, and my other glossary columns:
Crude oil prices are up Monday after the weekend's escalating rhetoric between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia over the disappearance — and apparent killing — of Jamal Khashoggi.
Between the lines: Traders don't appear convinced at this point that the rupture will cause major upheaval in oil flows. Prices for the benchmark Brent crude are higher but they're not soaring.
Why it matters: Saudi Arabia is the world's largest crude oil exporter and, along with the U.S. and Russia, one of the world's biggest producers. Any Saudi effort to use oil as a geopolitical weapon would rattle global oil markets and put sharp upward pressure on prices that are already near four-year-highs.
Driving the news: Over the weekend President Trump said there would be "severe punishment" if the Saudis killed Khashoggi.
The latest: In remarks in India this morning, Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih emphasized the kingdom's role as a reliable global supplier.
Go deeper: via Bloomberg, Veiled Saudi Threat Boosts Oil Prices Already Moving Toward $100
Let's spend another moment with the U.S.-Saudi tensions . . .
Be smart: In a weekend Forbes piece, energy analyst and Saudi expert Ellen Wald writes that the kingdom has only "limited" ability to respond to the United States.
Yes, but: The White House faces its own constraints, despite bipartisan pressure on Trump to take action over Khashoggi.
The rift comes as the administration is reimposing sanctions against Iran that are driving their exports downward, and Trump wants more barrels on the market from elsewhere in OPEC.
Correction: This story has been corrected to specify that Sam Ori is the executive director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, not the head of it.
Amy and Axios data visualization whiz Naema Ahmed have a nifty item that explores the changing electricity mix in four key nations.
One cool thing: On Axios.com, you can hover over the Denmark graphic to pull up the same info for any other country.
Why it matters: A United Nations scientific body just released a seminal report on how the world’s energy systems would have to be transformed to adequately address climate change.
The big picture: The world is still heavily dependent upon fossil fuels. It accounts for 81% of the world's energy consumption, a figure that hasn’t changed in 30 years. Evolving electricity mixes is one clear gauge of how countries are doing cutting their greenhouse gas emissions and using cleaner technologies.
Details: Four countries — United States, Japan, China and Denmark — illustrate the challenges different parts of the world have in greening their electricity mixes.
President Trump remains sharply at odds with scientists on global warming, even if he no longer thinks the whole thing is a big lie.
Driving the news: In his "60 Minutes" interview that aired last night, Trump said he did not think climate change was a "hoax," which is a clear break from his past use of the term.
That means he still flatly disagrees with the overwhelming consensus among scientists whose research shows that human-induced emissions have been the dominant cause of warming since the mid-20th century.
The bottom line: That ongoing rupture, and Trump's reiteration of his view that addressing climate will be an economic loser for the U.S., signals that a policy change isn't coming at the White House, which is scuttling a suite of Obama-era climate regulations and moving to abandon the Paris climate agreement.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
Axios' Felix Salmon looks at the financial stakes of climate change . . .
There's $500 trillion of wealth on planet Earth, give or take: Maybe $230 trillion in land and property, $200 trillion in debt and $70 trillion in equity.
The big picture: All of that wealth comes, ultimately, from the planet, and the climate. Specifically, it has come from a stable climate. William Nordhaus points out in his 2013 book "The Climate Casino" that “the last 7,000 years have been the most stable climatic period in more than 100,000 years.”
The last 7,000 years have also seen the rise of civilization and the creation of that $500 trillion in wealth. This is not a coincidence.
The bottom line: The report puts the cost of a 1.5°C increase at $54 trillion, in today's money. That number comes from research that also says that a 2.0°C increase will cause $69 trillion of damage, and a 3.7°C increase will cause a stunning $551 trillion in damage.
Go deeper: Felix has much more in the Axios stream.